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In this paper we introduce and experiment with a framework for learning local perceptual distance functions for visual recognition. We learn a distance function for each training image as a combination of elementary distances between patch-based visual features. We apply these combined local distance functions to the tasks of image retrieval and classification of novel images. On the Caltech 101 object recognition benchmark, we achieve 60.3% mean recognition across classes using 15 training images per class, which is better than the best published performance by Zhang, et al.